White Ribbon Day; Van Nguyen; Victorian Liberal Party – Doorstop Interview, Melbourne Museum, Carlton

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White Ribbon Day; Van Nguyen; Victorian Liberal Party – Doorstop Interview, Melbourne Museum, Carlton



Minister for Family and Community Services
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women’s Issues

Doorstop Interview

Melbourne Museum, Carlton
Friday 25 November 2005
8.15 am

SUBJECTS: White Ribbon Day; Van Nguyen; Victorian Liberal Party


Well today is White Ribbon Day. It is a day when all of Australia says no to

violence against women. Women need partners, husbands, brothers, sisters, neighbours,

friends to assist them in making it clear that violence is not a part of Australian

life. It does not have to been accepted. It will not be accepted, and clearly

and unambiguously people in positions of leadership should make that point.

There are still too many women in Australia who suffer from domestic violence,

or violence in one form or another. And they need the community as a whole to

come out and say, violence is not acceptable. It will not be tolerated, and

the Australian government has a programme to say ‘no’ to violence

against women, an advertising campaign, and to engage local community groups

to give that clear statement that violence is not an acceptable. Violence is

not part of the Australia way. Violence will not be tolerated and those people

who are suffering from it should feel free to come forward and to report it,

and to seek relief from it.


White Ribbon Day was initiated by men in Canada. It is a very special day,

it is an international day, and as Peter Costello has said, a day when we all

commit, both men and women to the cause of preventing violence against women.

I want to say how much I appreciate Peter Costello being here as a senior figure

in Australia, supporting the day. We have footballers, defence force personnel,

police, and a range of business people all here today saying that violence against

women – Australia says ‘no’. It is a very important message. It

is a message that we should continually say that violence of any form is totally



Why is it particularly important that the initiative was started by men?


I think it is important to say that men are saying that they are concerned

about their daughters, concerned about their sisters, their wives, other people

who may be subjected to violence by other men, and I think it is important that

men are standing up and saying, violence is not acceptable.


Angela is an extraordinary person, isn’t she? The fact that she has the

courage to come here today.


Angela has been amazing. Angela is a young woman who was abused in a park by

her partner when she was sixteen. She is now physically disabled, unable to

speak, and she has participated in a DVD that we have put around to every school,

Victorian police are now using it, the police in the southern part of New South

Wales are using the DVD, and she and her parents go around telling people about

the outcome of violence, and she is a very special young woman.


Can I ask you just in relation to Van Nguyen, the Attorney-General Rob Hulls

going over, do you think it is a futile exercise at this stage?


Look, every person of goodwill will make their contribution in their own way,

and the fact that the Victorian Government sent someone to Singapore is welcome.

Unfortunately, I think that the Singaporean Government has made its decision,

and we in the Australian Government have lobbied at every level, President,

Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, right up and down the Government of Singapore.

It has not borne fruit unfortunately for Mr Van Nguyen, but every effort is

worthwhile, no stone has been left unturned, and the question now resides fairly

and squarely with the Singaporean Government.


Seeing Mrs Nguyen though, having her hopes constantly dashed, is it almost

cruel to give her any hope at this stage?


Look I think everything that can be done should be done. I know at the Federal

Government level we have done everything. I can say that there are no steps

that have been left untried. Of course my heart goes out to the mother, this

is a terrible time for her, but I can assure her that every effort has been

made, and they will continue whilst there is any chance, representations will

continue, and pleas for clemency are being made repeatedly. We have to face

reality though. The reality is this, Singapore is a sovereign country, it makes

its own law, it enforces its own law. And if a sovereign country does not want

to change its policy, there is very little you can do about it.


Have you a message for that family?


The message for the family is that this is terrible ordeal that they are going

through. That Australians feel for them, and that the Australian Government

has left no stone unturned in its plea for clemency.


The Age published a poll today that showed Robert Doyle’s approval rating

has dropped. Do you still back him as leader of the Liberal Party of Victoria?


Well as I said yesterday, Robert is the elected leader of the Liberal Party

in Victoria. If there is another member of the party who thinks he or she can

do a better job, they can nominate, and if they do nominate and if they are

elected, they can lead the party. But as I understand it there is nobody else

that wants to nominate for leader. That being the case I would advise all of

the members to throw their support behind Robert, because as a team they will

do much better than if they are divided, and I think the people of Victoria

want the opportunity to see alternative government and it is up to the Liberal

Party to give them the opportunity.


Do you think (inaudible) learn from experience?


Look in political life you know there are a couple of iron rules. One of the

iron rules is this, that where you work together you generally do better, than

when you do not. It is a bit like sport.


Do you think the fate of the Liberal Party in the next State election is already



No, no. The next election in Victoria is in 2006, I just have to get my dates

right here. The next election here in the State of Victoria is 2006. Any Victorian

Liberal who believes that that election is not worth winning, or can not be

won, ought not to run at the next election. Now I do not want to read in the

paper people saying, ‘oh, we will wait until we lose the next election’.

Work on winning the next election is what I say to them. No defeatism, no concession.

The people of Victoria are looking to you to provide an alternative government,

and comments that the election can not be won, or they will wait and see when

it is not won, frankly are lazy, those comments do not do justice to the Liberal

Party, and they do not do justice to the membership of the Liberal Party, and

they let down the people of Victoria. I do not want to hear those sorts comments

please. On behalf of the Liberal Party they expect their members to be running

to win. And the people of Victoria expect the Liberal Party to be running to

form an alternative government.


Back to (inaudible) Mr Nguyen, Amnesty International …


Just two last questions. One here and one there.


… been critical that the Australian Government fought for the death penalty

in some situations, like the Bali bomber, and not in others …


Who says that sorry?


Amnesty International, (inaudible) like Van Nguyen. Can you see Australia changing

its stance on the death penalty, do you think, after this situation?


No Australia does not practice the death penalty. No State in Australia practices

the death penalty, and the Federal Government does not support the death penalty.

But you have got to understand this point, other countries have their own legal

systems, and when you are in other countries, you become subject to their legal

system. Australia does not run the legal system of Singapore, it does not run

the legal system in Bali. These are sovereign countries, they decide what to

do in their countries, just as we would not run our criminal system on the advice

and the direction of a foreign country. These countries do not run their legal

system on the advice and direction of Australia. People have got to understand

this. Here is a message for tourists. When you go into Singapore you are not

under Australian law, you are under Singapore law. Do not run drugs, and do

not run them in Australia by the way, either. Do not run them in Singapore,

and if you run drugs in Singapore, you are under Singaporean law, other than

the Australian Government making representations, you are in within the province

of the law, and the imprisonment system of that foreign country. Sorry, last



Gough Whitlam has come out today and actually criticised quite harshly the

laws of Singapore, do you think that comments by a former Prime Minister helps

the situation at all?


Well you have got to remember that at the end of the day Singapore is a sovereign

country. It makes its own decisions, it enforces its own laws. We can put representations

to them. We can try and persuade them, that is what we are doing, but threatening

Singapore in my opinion, is unlikely to have more effect, than trying to persuade

it. And I think appeals and persuasion, I think representations are going to

be more likely to have effect if any effect is going to be had than threats.

Thank you.